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Fans Fill Metroid Void With New Creations

Samus AranMetroid fans have been waiting a while for a proper follow-up to Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission, but with the franchise's focus on the 3D Metroid Prime titles and the upcoming spin-off Federation Force, it seems that the lack of classic 2D-style Samus Aran adventures is going to go on for a while more.  Not wanting to wait it out, several people have put together complete reworkings of 1994's Super Metroid for the Super NES to turn it into new games.  NeoGAF member Boney has put together a list of the best new Metroid adventures and invites further discussion about them.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you should know that the original Super Metroid is widely considered one of the best videogames of all time and for good reason. A masterfully created open ended map overhauled from it's predecesor, with an emphasis on exploration and acquisition of significant power ups. The strong design was accompanied by the creation of a believable ecosystem, gorgeous spritework, wonderful music and too many memorable moments to mention here. It's widely considered the best game in the franchise and every game since then has diverted itself mechanically or design wise to the beauty that is Super Metroid.

So to satisfy you guys before some of you lose it due to deprivation, I invite all of you to be part of GAF plays: Super Metroid Hacks, in which we can find solace in wonderfully designed games made by passionate and talented community that is the Super Metroid scene. These guys have been going strong for over a decade and they show no signs of stopping, making more and more progress and pushing what is thought to be possible to build when handed the keys of the game itself.

There's some interesting stuff happening here.  Normally I'm not a fan of underskilled gamers proclaiming that they will make the true Metroid 5 or the real Sonic X-Treme or what have you, but in this case I think that the creators of these Metroid projects have something special happening.  There's actual game design talent in action here.  Super Metroid Redesign tampers with gravity and rebalances Samus's abilities.  Metroid Super Zero Mission is built for sequence breaking.  Metroid: Ice Metal focuses on a non-linear design and encourages exploration.  Nintendo will eventually take Metroid back to its roots, but the fans can fill the void until then (and more power to them as they do).


Speed Through The History Of F-Zero


Nintendo's beloved racer F-Zero attracted a lot of attention when it debuted with the Super NES in 1991, and over the years the various sequels for the Nintendo 64 to Game Boy Advance and beyond have turned heads thanks to the sense of immense speed and break-neck turns.  Hardcore Gaming 101 explores the history of the series including several installments that never left Japan.  For instance, there's a expansion kit for F-Zero X that includes additional racing cups, a track editor and a kickass remix of Mario Kart 64's famous Rainbow Road track.  There's even some information on unofficial versions of the series for the Sega Genesis and PC.  Here's a bit of the section on the Satellaview-exclusive semi-sequel, BS F-Zero Grand Prix.

The SNES game was simultaneously the first and the last Western players got to see of F-Zero for eight long years. In Japan, however, Nintendo revived the brand for their Satellaview program already in 1996 with the BS F-Zero Grand Prix. Each of the four broadcasts consists of one cup, but the game is structured a bit oddly. Before each race starts, there is a practice round and a demonstration of a specific tip for the course. The parts were played as timed SoundLink broadcasts with added commentary and arranged versions of the music (different from the jazz album).

The four iconic F-Zero cars were replaced with new alternatives that have a more fancy look and shuffle the stats around a bit, but fulfill the same basic roles within the game. Even though later entries in the series greatly expanded the roster of competitors, these four vehicles never returned. The tracks are mostly the same, but they're arranged a bit differently and there is one new course in each cup for a total of 19 (Mute City I is repeated once in the last broadcast). Some of the new courses mix up the familiar elements in unique and interesting ways, but there's nothing categorically new here.

I've always enjoyed the F-Zero series despite being basically terrible at it.  I even tracked down the rare arcade release, F-Zero AX, in a secret arcade hidden away at Walt Disney World several years ago.  Fans have begged for a proper new F-Zero since the earliest days of the Wii, but word on the street is that poor sales for the GameCube's F-Zero GX and a lack of consensus within Nintendo on where to take the series next have held back new installments.  Still, if Star Fox (another Super NES title meant to show off new technology and a series thematically linked with F-Zero through fun character references) can see a sequel post-GameCube, I'm sure there's hope for F-Zero yet. 


Power Button - Episode 204: Disney In-finish-ity

Power_buttonBlake Grundman has a problem.  He's invested a lot of time and money into collecting Disney Infinity figurines and video games and now Disney has canceled the entire product line.  He needs some time to air his grievances and openly weep, so on this week's episode of Power Button we hold a farewell for the biggest Toys To Life product that somehow didn't make enough money.  Also, knowing that Disney is going back to licensing its properties to other publishers again, we pitch some ideas for Disney-owned properties we'd like to see become new games.  A dream is a wish your heart makes (unless you fail to turn a profit).  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Disney Exits Console Publishing, Disney Infinity To Be Discontinued

Disney InfinityFailing to definitively conquer the video game console publishing market, Disney Interactive is exiting the business and taking its Toys To Life game platform Disney Infinity with it.  The game will shut down in June following the release of the final two character packs (based on Alice Through The Looking Glass and Finding Dory) and the studio behind it all, Avalanche Software (not to be confused with Avalanche Studios, the Just Cause folks), is now out of business.  It's a grim day for Infinity fans as despite performing what any other company would consider to be successful in this business, it's not enough for Disney.  USgamer has the report.

Disney Infinity probably made a good deal of money, but for Disney, the licensed Star Wars Battlefront represented the future moving forward. Pachter estimated that Disney Infinity made $200 million in revenue last year, while Star Wars Battlefront earned $660 million. The $200 million estimate put Disney Infinity ahead of Lego Dimensions and Skylanders, but Disney is a huge company and its perspective on 'successful' is vastly different.

By licensing the Star Wars brand to Electronic Arts, Disney doesn't have to have developers on hand to make titles. It reaps the rewards and the risks are all Electronic Arts. At some point, management looked that the gulf between Infinity and Battlefront and wondered why it was publishing games in-house. You can probably expect to see more licensing of Disney properties, but most of that will probably lean on the mobile side.

If you're still interested in the Infinity figures, watch for clearance sales at your favorite retailer over the summer.  It's disappointing to see Disney exit the business, but now that the company is switching gears back to a licensing model, perhaps we'll see some creative ideas based on Disney properties from other companies.  Yes, there will always be a place for Star Wars games, but where are the Arkham Asylum-like Avengers game, Darkwing Duck Remastered, and of course my biggest, most wanted pipe dream of them all...

It's a shame that being merely successful at a business like this isn't enough for Disney which has an "engulf and devour" mindset in the video game industry as it engages in a repeated cycle of buying established studios, pushing them to deliver, closing them when they fail to quickly produce top selling sensations right out of the gate, and then withdrawing from the business altogether before trying again a few years later.  I don't understand why anyone would spend so much time and money to build a platform that is successful by standard metrics and then throw it away just became it makes only some money and not all money.


Power Button - Episode 203: Aliens Vs Podcast

Power ButtonAliens are among us!  Specifically, aliens in video games.  On this episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I take you through Zen Studio's Aliens vs Pinball pack which leads into a discussion of our favorite video game aliens.  From the denizens of SR388 to Lavos to Halo's Flood and beyond, we're going past the stars and beyond the moon.  You cannot comprehend the true form of this show, but try it out anyway.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Duke Nukem Meets Nintendo In A Censorship Clash For The Ages

Duke Nukem 64Before Duke Nukem became an everlasting punchline with the often delayed and eventually disappointing Duke Nukem Forever, he was a franchise favorite thanks to the popular Duke Nukem 3D. The sci-fi shooter turned heads on the PC and was ported to a variety of platforms of the day including the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, so it was only natural that the Nintendo 64 should see its own version. The problem, of course, is that Nintendo's censorship and acceptable content policies of the day did not allow for much of Duke's crude humor, gory violence, and sexual content. If games like Doom and Quake could be safely adapted for the N64, surely Duke 3D could make the transition with its overall spirit intact, right? GamesTM chronicles how Duke Nukem 3D transformed into Duke Nukem 64.

The biggest alteration of all came with the approach the game made with its female characters, though. Known as “babes”, these young, good-looking women were victims of the game’s alien invasion and they appeared in various guises from breast-bearing strippers to those who were cocooned, trapped or festooned on posters. Controversially the babes trapped in the alien pods could be killed in Duke Nukem 3D but in the N64 version, they could be rescued instead and it became a fundamental part of the game.

“Just killing innocents like that was too much,” says Mills. “I may be wrong but I think it was my idea to have the rescues in and have it as a stat at the end of the game so there was something to search for in each level. It was another thing to do in the game and something for the completest. We’d hide the women in strange places so they were an extra thing to find.” At the same time, out went nudity along with bad language, drug references and anything religious (there was no chapel in the N64 version). It left a void, though, and while a lot of removed material was replaced with a pop culture reference, extra violence was used to bridge the gaps. “This wasn’t a conscious effort, it just happened,” explains Finney.

While I wasn't a fan of gore when I was a kid, I was amazed at what Duke Nukem 3D had accomplished and played through the shareware version many times on my PC.  When I saw the game had made the leap to the N64, friends and I rented it time and again to play through the full campaign and enjoy some splitscreen multiplayer.  Duke 3D would end up ported to many other platforms over the years spanning from the Sega Genesis to the iPhone, but it's the old Nintendo 64 version that I fondly remember when I recall my high school gaming days of first person shooters with friends.  We didn't care that Duke 64 didn't include any background music due to cartridge storage limitations or that the strip club level had been replaced with a fast food restaurant called Duke Burger (as horny teens we missed the strip club, but as seasoned gamers we preferred the burger joint).  We had fun!  Really, what else can one ask for from a video game?


Nintendo NX, New Zelda Coming March 2017

The Legend of ZeldaIncreasingly tight-lipped Nintendo announced this morning that its upcoming new console (still codenamed NX) is set to release globally in March 2017.  Fans hoping to learn more about it at E3 2016 in June will be disappointed to learn that the company has no plans to show any NX hardware or games at the event and is instead focusing their energy on showcasing the new Legend of Zelda title which is now also due to be released in March 2017 for both Wii U and NX.  Moreover, the Wii U version of Zelda is the only Nintendo game set to be playable at E3.  Chris Kohler at Wired explains.

You might think this is a pretty big kick in the pants for Wii U’s holiday season, and you’d be right. Legend of Zelda wasn’t just Nintendo’s tentpole release for Christmas, it was the whole damn tent. As of now, the only Wii U game scheduled for the latter half of the year is Paper Mario: Color Splash.

While it's disappointing that we'll have to wait a while longer for information about the NX, the Internet has already turned to predicting gloom and doom for Nintendo because of the 2017 date.  Can't we just skip the complaining?  If you're upset about this news, then there must be other games you want to play that you haven't found the time to enjoy yet.  As for me, I'm still working on Assassin's Creed Syndicate, then I want to play the new Ratchet & Clank before getting into the Wii U version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  I want to replay Ghostbusters: The Video Game with my girlfriend before the new film releases in July.  I still need to finish Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam before I can think about Paper Mario: Color SplashUncharted 4: A Thief's End is due out very soon.  I have plenty of media to fill my free time and I'm sure you do as well.  Nintendo will show its cards when it's ready. We don't need all the negativity. You will survive without a new Legend of Zelda in your hands this year. 


Power Button - Episode 202: Miitomo Leads The Nintendo Mobile Charge

Power ButtonNintendo's first mobile app, Miitomo, is among us now on your iOS or Android device of choice, so on this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss our experience with the interrogative social app and ponder which Nintendo franchises lend themselves well to the mobile gaming experience.  You're not going to see Pokémon Red for $1 on the App Store, but maybe you'll find games starring King Dedede, Captain Olimar, or Little Mac someday.  Join us for an hour of playing with mobile power.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Power Button - Episode 201: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Power ButtonIt's always a terrible shame when a video game development studio goes under, and while companies such as Lionhead and Sega Technical Institute may be gone, they are not forgotten.  On this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I remember some of our favorite shuttered studios and pay tribute to some of the industry's best, worst, or most memorable releases from studios that are no longer with us.  We have an hour of fond remembrances for you.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Fun With Miiphotos

Run Indy!Nintendo's anticipated Miitomo app for iOS and Android has launched, bringing the fun of question and answers, costumes, and pachinko mini-games to your social network of choice.  Also included is the ability to take those lovable Mii avatars and insert them into photos with a variety of poses and expressions.  Naturally, I've been having fun with this feature by inserting my Mii into favorite video games, movies, and television.  It's good silly fun and more enjoyable than I'd expected.  So, in the interest of sharing, I'm happy to show off some of my favorites.

Continue reading "Fun With Miiphotos" »